Aaargh … Time for New Year’s Resolutions

So, here we go again. What does your list consist of this year?  If being interviewed by Barbara Walters, we may all weep openly and say we want nothing more than achieving a radiant state of pure zen enlightenment and world peace.  Secretly, however, vowing to attend spin class three times a week and losing those pesky 15 pounds probably ranks a little higher on the list. So why are these same goals, so painstakingly created year after year, so invariably written in disappearing ink?  Is there anything we can do to finally start making them a reality?

One of the keys to the Holy Grail quest of making a new year’s resolution a lasting part of our lives is to really stop and think about the level of desire to do so.  Is this genuinely something that’s important to you?  How would you feel about yourself if this became a habit, a part of your daily routine, or how you define yourself?  Here are a few tips:

Keep it Simple, Take Easy Steps, Engage your family and friends for support, and be Mindful of how even a small change can start to make you feel better about yourself.

Let’s say you’re not feeling connected as you’d like in your relationship, and decide to set aside a time for some much-needed meaningful, uninterrupted conversation with your partner.  It’s easier if you both commit to turning off all electronics at 10:00 p.m. –  then light a candle, play some soft background music, look into each other’s eyes, and just speak from the heart.  Believe me, you can take it from there – and you’d be surprised how the positive impact this can have on your togetherness will make this a habit you’ll want to keep.  And doesn’t that help you see yourself as a more compassionate, communicative person?  Watch how that shift in your self-image begins to affect your other relationships as well.

And how about those unmovable 15 pounds?  Again, parcel it out to do-able, incremental goals. Forget the scale, let’s just call it going on a health kick, and begin by replacing those heavy comfort foods with nutrient-dense, delicious alternatives. Spend some time making sure that the new food choices sound appetizing and enticing – it’s not about what you’re giving up, it’s about making your new way of living and eating filled with vitality and aliveness.  Put photos of all things healthy everywhere you look during the day – and remember to  be aware of how great you feel!  Once your body starts to feel more energized, it will actually be nearly impossible to go back.

In that ironic way the Universe has of messing with us, the more we pursue Enlightenment, the more it taunts and eludes us.

So, now that we’re cooking (in a healthy way) here, what then about Enlightenment and World Peace?  Legend has it that the Indian monk originally bringing Buddhism to China achieved enlightenment only after remaining motionless in his cave for 9 years, cutting off his eyelids so he wouldn’t fall asleep.  As inspiring as this story is, I personally can’t remain motionless for more than 3 minutes, am not entering a cave without my ipad, floodlights and bioidentical hormones, and I’m a teensy bit squeamish about cutting my eyelids. So I might need a different way to go here.

In that ironic way the Universe has of messing with us, the more we pursue Enlightenment, the more it taunts and eludes us.  Even here, incremental steps.  Begin by setting a timer, and every few hours just stop for five minutes and be Mindful … notice the contents of your thoughts and emotions, the way your body feels, become aware of yourself in time and space.  Set aside a few minutes before retiring for Meditation … Keep It Simple!  Following your breath, focusing your mind, even listening to some gentle music or a guided imagery tape can help you become more relaxed and centered.

As we become more Mindful, this also positively spills over into the many moments in our day, and it becomes harder to remain unconsciously driven by old habits.  Once you’re aware of it, it’s not a habit, it’s a choice.  And as trite as it sounds, Peace does begin Within.  We may not be able to change violence on the world stage, but we can stop any violence or aggression in our own consciousness, family and community.  The more we can move through our lives with mindful awareness, the less chaotic our thoughts and emotions, and the more peaceful we become.  And that touches everyone we meet.

Incorporating a few of these practices in every day can slowly begin to change … well, everything.

Happy 2016!

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